Does the holiday season have you stumped about what to get for the recreation enthusiast who has everything? Puzzle no more, friends. Forthwith, the sometimes annual Isthmus Recreation Desk gift guide for those engaged in the sporting life.
For triathletes, marathoners and other endurance enthusiasts who want to take their performances to the next level, a coach can make all the difference.
Perhaps the most celebrated in Madison: Jim Bruskewitz, the founder and principal of Endurance Performance Ltd. Since 1992, he has coached four world triathlon champions and nine national champions as well as dozens of silver and bronze medalists. He also has tutored 19 marathoners to personal records and almost 100 other clients to their first Ironman finishes.
His own bona fides include two world and six national age-group triathlon titles, an age-group course record for Ironman Wisconsin and an MS degree from UW-Madison, where he is now a lecturer in kinesiology. Taking into account each individual's abilities, Bruskewitz drafts detailed plans to help clients make the most efficient use of their training time, and consults with them on nutrition, equipment and race strategy in an effort to help them achieve their ambitions. Two months for $155 at www.enduranceperformance.com or 233-5579.
Local bicycle commuters and competitors Lyle Hanson and Kelly Petersen have updated the vintage cycling cap, retaining the small flip-up visors of traditional models but rendering them in inventive fabric patterns.
Among the designs: classic plaid, argyle, houndstooth and even - gasp! - corduroy, but also a sassy leopard-skin print and vivid postmodern circles and stripes. In addition to stock patterns, Cognition takes custom orders from clients including local bicycle framebuilders, as well as individuals who provide their own fabric (think tattered cycling jerseys or T-shirts), with turn-around on custom orders in about one week. About $20 per cap at Revolution Cycles or online via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pink Bicycle Fenders
Madison-based bicycle-accessory firm Planet Bike this year produced a limited-edition pink Cascadia fender set (www.planetbike.com/blog/48). That's right, pink! Say what you will about that color's gender associations, their limited number has created such a buzz around them that at least a few sets appear destined for eBay.
Available in sizes suited to road, hybrid, mountain and 29er bike frames, with perhaps a dozen sets of each size left at this writing. About $40-$50. Phone ahead to check availability at your favorite local bike retailer, or contact Planet Bike, 866-256-8510 or email@example.com.
Rocks to Climb
This is not to suggest you deliver a 2,000-ton glacial erratic to the backyard of someone you know. Instead, consider introducing them to Boulders Climbing Gym, where the artificial walls stand in for sedimentary and metamorphic rocks carved by the ages.
Since the Devil's Lake crowd has moved indoors, a wealth of new routes and bouldering problems have been cropping up at Boulders, 3964 Commercial Ave., which is offering 20% off 10-visit passes and gear from its pro shop, along with other enticing specials, right up until Christmas Eve. And if you think the holidays might drive someone on your shopping list to climb the walls, why not help them out? Consider covering their $96 tuition for one of the climbing gym's Adult Aspire classes for beginners. The next class meets Monday and Wednesday evenings for three weeks starting Jan. 28, and a women-only class starts Jan. 7. Phone 244-8100 or visit www.bouldersgym.com for details.
A Snow Shovel
Shoveling may be the world's most underappreciated full-body workout. Done with proper technique, it combines strength training with cardiovascular conditioning while engaging abs, lats and other core muscles along with legs, arms, shoulders and the most important muscle of all: the heart.
Done wrong, however, it carries substantial risk of injury - including heart attack - so be sure to advise the shovel's recipient to consult a physician before using it. An ideal gift for ice skaters looking to keep a rink clear on local lakes and ponds. Starting from about $10-$20 at your neighborhood hardware store.
Sport-Specific Charitable Donations
But maybe the recreation enthusiast on your holiday shopping list does indeed have everything, along with two or three spares of some items. In that case, why not make a donation in their honor to an advocacy group that benefits the sport of their choice?
The paddler on your list, for example, might be happy to learn you've paid them tribute with a donation to the River Alliance of Wisconsin (www.wisconsinrivers.org), which works to restore and protect rivers throughout the state. No matter what the sport or activity, you're almost certain to find a charitable advocacy group to match.